Reflection on Facing the Future 2016

Realising Resilience was the theme of this year’s Facing the Future conference which was organised and hosted at the University of Aberdeen. I have attended each one of these conferences since they began, and each year I come away with a whole new perspective as well as a network to share this lens with. A particular focus of all FtF conference is the emphasis on interaction and connectivity, and this was really confirmed by the attendees who praised the event for feeling like a reunion. Being part of an FtF conference is really more than just tapping into a network. It’s about becoming connected, and it’s the value of connectivity and the processes by which it is forged which I think are important.

Facing the Future 2016

Facing the Future 2016

Our connectivity through this year’s event was facilitated by the International Futures Forum Tony Hodgson and David Beatty from the University of the third horizon H3 Uni. We were introduced to an exercise which involved a giant icosahedron and split into various sustainable development goals (SDG). What followed can only really be described as an expansive learning experience which not only allowed for practical principles of collaborative thinking and learning to emerge, but gave a new space in which the SDG goals could be exercised. It was an embodied experience which allowed us to really problematise in a real world context, and put into focus what is as Patrick Geddes coined our “drama in time”.

Facing the Future 2016

Facing the Future 2016

Coming away from this event, I have realised that connectivity is not just working together on research but realising and becoming conscious together of the competency in our connection, just as much as the incompetency. In times where questions like how we create rapid and significant changes are becoming increasingly popular, these experiences of connectivity are important and have practical impacts. I am really looking forward to building on this connectivity over the year where FtF17 will run before the Transformations2017 conference, held here at the Centre of Environmental Change and Human Resilience.

Whilst I am still profoundly moved by the power of ‘unlikely alliances’ (a term which I first heard from John Colvin and Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib, at the Transformation Conference, Oslo) over the past four years of FtF I have come to appreciate the value this event has for making these alliances less unlikely.

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